Kindergarten to second graders may have fun in making their own plastic at home; also known as Gluep and functions like silly putty. Experiment with the plastic; see how pliable it is and try to figure out if it is a solid or a liquid.
- 1 Tablespoon white glue (washable school glue)
- 1 Teaspoon laundry borax
- 2 Cups
- 2 Spoons
What Mystery Are We Solving?
Examine the homemade plastic and see how it behaves when shaped into different forms, dropped and stretched. Why does this homemade plastic behave this way?
Although there’s nothing particularly dangerous about the experiment, common sense and having an adult present is always a good idea.
How To Make Gluep Aka Homemade Plastic
- Mix 5 tablespoons water with 1 teaspoon laundry borax.
- Stir with the spoon until the borax dissolves.
- In the second cup add 1 tablespoon of glue to 1 tablespoon of water.
- Use the second spoon to stir the glue-water mixture.
- Mix 2 teaspoons of the borax-water mixture with the glue-water mixture.
- When you can’t stir it with the spoon anymore, use your gloved hands to mould it.
- If the mixture is uneven or stringy, knead it.
- Although it won’t last forever, you can store it in a zip-lock plastic bag.
Questions to Ponder
- What happens when you change the shape of the plastic?
- When you roll the plastic into a ball, does it keep its shape?
- What happens if you drop the ball onto a flat surface? Does it roll like a ball?
- Roll the Gluep into a cylinder shape. What happens when you pull the ends slowly and what happens if you pull quickly?
- Level the Gluep ball into a flat strip and pick it up at one end? How does it react?
What Just Happened Here In Our Gluep Lab? Our Answers
Polymer crosslinking is the reason for the plastic’s behavior. Glue contains long chains of polyvinyl acetate molecules called polymers mixed with water. The polymers are the reason that glue sticks when exposed to air.
Polymers have the characteristics of a solid and a liquid, hence the reason for their behavior when stretched and shaped.
Borax is the activator that causes the crosslinking when the borate ions link with the glue polymers changing the position of the molecules in the glue. The chemical reaction forms a new substance, the plastic.
The plastic holds its shape for a while when left alone. The plastic may stretch and bend if handled with care and stretched slowly preventing the breaking of the chains. If pulled quickly, for example, the molecule links are disrupted and the plastic breaks into pieces.